For Immediate Release (Ottawa – 19 December 2006)
A trilingual bronze plaque honouring the First World War Ukrainian Canadian hero, Corporal Filip Konowal, VC, has been stolen from the facade of Branch #360 of The Royal Canadian Legion, 326 Queen Street West, in Toronto. The Branch, popularly known as “CLUB 360” [Canadian Legion Ukrainian Branch] was particularly active in recalling the valour of this Canadian veteran, installing similar historical markers in places across Canada associated with Cpl Konowal’s life, including Richmond, British Columbia (The Royal Westminster Regiment), Ottawa (The Governor General’s Foot Guards), and on their own building, in Toronto, in 1996. Plaques were also unveiled in Kudkivtsi, Ukraine (Konowal’s home village), in 2000, and near the site of the Battle for Hill 70, Lens, France (2005). A trilingual booklet detailing Konowal’s life was published by the Branch and distributed widely across Canada to public libraries, schools and universities. Members of the group were likewise instrumental in rescuing Konowal’s VC, which now stands permanently on display in the new Canadian War Museum.
Commenting on the theft, Branch #360’s president, John B Gregorovich, said:
” Our building was seized, without just cause, by the Ontario Provincial Command, with the sanction of Dominion Command of The Royal Canadian Legion, in June 2005. While this matter has yet to be resolved by the courts, the fact is that our property is currently in the charge of Ontario Provincial Command. Their stewardship leaves much to be desired, for, on their watch, a valuable bronze plaque honouring a Canadian soldier has been stolen. When our Branch was active that plaque was safe and sound. It was only after Ontario Command padlocked our premises and expelled us from our Branch, over the protests of our members, that this outrage took place. We have called upon the Ontario and Dominion Commands to file a police report about this theft and to contact their insurance providers to arrange for an exact replica of the Konowal plaque to be made and reinstalled. We expended considerable time and resources in doing the good Legion work of honouring Filip Konowal, one of our Great War veterans, and now that effort is being undone because of the actions of Ontario and Dominion Commands. They have a moral and legal duty to redress this situation. We are also asking anyone who has any information about the theft of this plaque to come forward and help us recover it. It is a sad day indeed when memorials to Canadian heroes become prey to petty thieves.”